Nokia Siemens Preps Hosted IPTV
The launch of such a service could thrust the company back into the forefront of the IPTV sector that has been dominated by Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), while another key rival, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), is also making ground. (See Microsoft Preps 'Milwaukee' IPTV Upgrade, Telecom Italia Rejects Microsoft IPTV, MTS Picks AlcaLu & Microsoft, Microsoft Adds VOD, IPTV Extras, Microsoft Seals $500M IPTV Deal, AlcaLu 'Ads' to Its TV Program, Ericsson: Tandberg Is Key to IPTV, and Thomson, Ericsson Bag IPTV Deals.)
Although NSN is the technology partner behind one of the world's biggest IPTV operations, at European incumbent Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG), its success with major operators has been limited, especially compared with key rival ALcaLu, which is working with many Tier 1 carriers on their TV-over-broadband services. (See Top Ten: IPTV Carriers, Belgians Eat Up IPTV, and Belgacom Extends NSN Contract.)
In total, NSN has about 80 IPTV customers, but many are small North American operators that use the Myrio middleware platform that Siemens acquired several years ago. Belgacom and Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) are its big name IPTV customers, though it has also had some success in Asia/Pacific and, recently, in Eastern Europe. (See NSN Wins IPTV Deal, Siemens Wins IPTV Deal, Siemens Touts Dutch IPTV, and Siemens Boasts IPTV Success.)
So now the company, which packages its own middleware platform and professional services with video-specific technology from a number of partners for the IPTV market, plans to make use of its services and integration capabilities by launching a hosted IPTV service, aimed at operators that don't want to, or can't, invest in their own telco TV systems.
Werner, who is head of applications at the vendor's Service Core and Applications Business Unit, says NSN has "a strong services footprint, with a huge and comprehensive services organization -– more than 20,000 staff. Hosting is one of the areas we would like to build further across the entire portfolio. We have experience in hosting networks and systems, mostly in the mobile sector, and we have hosting centers across all the major geographies... and we're looking at offering hosting IPTV capabilities as well," the NSN man tells Light Reading.
The service would involve NSN hosting and running the IPTV-specific systems, such as encoders, video servers, digital rights management capabilities, and middleware, that would be used to deliver IPTV and video-on-demand (VOD) services to, potentially, a number of different service providers that would use their own physical infrastructure to deliver the services to their broadband customers.
According to Werner, "from a platform perspective it's like any other; you have to be able to be running different instances [on the same infrastructure] and running different accounts using the same systems." He says NSN would offer the service using its IPTV "blueprint" that has been "implemented at many customers." That blueprint involves partners such as Widevine Technologies Inc. , Verimatrix Inc. , C-Cor, which is now part of Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), and Tandberg Television (now an Ericsson company), but it has a number of options for each video-related network element. (See Siemens, Widevine Team, Siemens Picks Tandberg, Siemens Adds Entone, and Siemens, Verimatrix Integrate.)
He adds, "What is not possible is the hosting of an entire IP network, the physical infrastructure such as the routers and the DSLAMs. But what can be hosted is the service platform and the back office systems -- the VOD servers, the headend systems, the encoders. These can be shared by a number of service providers."
Werner says NSN has been doing "a lot of conceptual work, providing the basic functionalities to make it possible. We have performed trials in our labs and with prospective customers, though I wouldn't like to name anyone. We're waiting until the trials are concluded to see whether our expectations are met, then we'll be in a better position to come up with a timetable and a roadmap."
And Werner believes there's pent-up demand for such an offering. "We see opportunities across the globe –- ISPs have huge interest in offering such services," says the NSN man.
While rival Ericsson says it has no plans to introduce such a service, AlcaLu is also looking at the concept.
Rik Missault, head of AlcaLu's Multimedia and Ventures Product Group, says the vendor plans to use the model it has already developed for its Mobile Interactive TV Managed Service and take that to the fixed world. (See Alcatel-Lucent Wins.)
Its proposition is centered around the hosting and operation of content management systems that house and deliver video, including commercials. Missault says AlcaLu is working towards launching an IPTV service some time in the second half of this year.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading